In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been seriously slacking in our review writing. What can we say, 2015 has been very busy for us both. But don’t worry, we are adding “pay more attention to the blog” to our New Year’s resolution list. Expect an uptick in posts starting in January.
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our favorite movies of 2015. As with last year’s list, there are movies that haven’t been released in Australian theaters yet that are probably really great. We’ll catch up with them as soon as we can. Suggestions are welcome!
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – Was there ever going to be anything else at number one? I had enormous expectations for this film, and it met every single one of them. JJ Abrams was the perfect person to bring Star Wars to a new generation, he’d already done it so well with Star Trek. To be honest, this could have been two hours of Han and Chewie snoring and I’d still have put it at number one. The fact it is actually an entertaining return to a galaxy far, far away is a bonus. Everything about this films is a joy to watch. It was nice to see Ford back in the role that made him a star and a special shout out needs to go Daisy Ridley, too. She is, by far, the coolest addition to this timeless franchise. I can’t wait to see what comes in episode 8.
- Inside Out – It was nice to see a return to form for Pixar after a lacklustre few years. They are able to reinvent such a simple premise yet again. Dealing with emotions as a preteen should be straightforward, but Pixar is able to give the emotions inside a little girl more heart than most live action films accomplished this year. Ok, so Amy Poehler is basically just playing an animated version of Leslie Knope, but who cares? Knope is amazing in any form, especially animated. I love how Pixar are consistently able to give heart to their films. It is something so many studios fail to accomplish, and Pixar do it far too often for it to be a fluke.
- Straight Outta Compton – I knew nothing about NWA or rap music going in, and while I’m sure this has been doctored so that the band members look much more like roses than they deserve, it is still an interesting look back to the creation of rap music and the controversy that came with it.
- Spy – Funniest movie of the year by some margin. Melissa McCarthy is at her best when working with director Paul Feig. He and his muse have made some solid comedy in Bridesmaids and The Heat, it gives me high hopes for the duo’s next pairing, an all female version of Ghostbusters. I expect laughs from McCarthy, but this film’s biggest surprise has to be Jason Statham, who perfectly lampoons the action films that made him famous.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service – An unexpected breath of fresh air. This action comedy does for spy movies what Kick-Ass did for superhero films. It’s a fun over-the-top romp that shows what a kick ass action hero Colin Firth could be. After this, he could easily have the same kind of late career action swan song that Liam Neeson enjoyed after Taken.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ok, so this wasn’t as good as the first one. The Avengers is the greatest comic book film ever created, so meeting those expectations was already unlikely. There is still enough enjoyment here to have a fun time. Joss Whedon does get bogged down in trying to set up future movies, but other than that, this is a fun follow up to the original groundbreaking team up film. Oh, and Vision!
- The Martian – Cast Away in space. One of the struggles a film like this could face is the amount of screen time devoted to one character alone on screen. Cast Away cleverly fixed this potential issue by giving Tom Hanks a volleyball to talk to. The Martian uses several different techniques to make the audience forget that for a big chunk of this film, we are usually only seeing Matt Damon gardening. Damon is such a strong actor that you care about his plight and want to see him get home. This is easily one of Damon’s best films.
- Jurassic World – everything I wrote about Age of Ultron can be said here too. Is it as good as Jurassic Park? No. Is it a fun romp through a theme park that despite always breaking down, you still wish existed? Absolutely. Chris Pratt shows his star making turn in Guardians of the Galaxy was no fluke, and the finale that brings back an old friend is perhaps the best set piece of the year.
- Spectre – This is the Bond I remember. Daniel Craig’s Bond films have largely been terrific, but they have not really felt like Bond films. Craig had failed to capture the swagger and innuendo that I have come to expect from James Bond, but Spectre is the first film that he manages to feel like 007 and not a British Jason Bourne. He’s got his gadgets and a cool new car. My only real complaint was that I expected a little more from Christoph Waltz as the villain. When he was cast, I couldn’t think of anybody more perfect to be a Bond villain. He’s good, I just expected more.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Solid finale to a great series overall. I was very disappointed with Mockingjay Part 1, so expectations were low for this. It definitely delivered. This is a tense follow up that is genuinely scary as Katniss and her crew sneak into the boobie trap filled Capital to stop President Snow once and for all.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Dumb and Dumber To
- Inside Out – Last year I was gaga over The LEGO Movie and wondered if Inside Out could live up to this excellent film. I don’t know why I doubted Pixar. This is my favorite movie of the year and one of the best animated features ever. Expect a lot of heart and maybe some tears, because only Pixar can truly capture how hard growing up can be.
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – I swear I’m not just including this movie because Ben might divorce me otherwise. Force Awakens is amazing. It’s effortlessly diverse, awesomly feminist, and genuinely funny. This is the Star Wars I’ve been waiting for since I was a little girl staging light saber fights with my sister.
- Straight Outta Compton – Even if you aren’t a fan of N.W.A.’s style of gangsta rap, Straight Outta Compton is worth watching. This film doesn’t shy away from most of the controversy that followed the group and shows the uncomfortable reality of how little has changed since the early 90s. No doubt there’s major legacy building at play, but it’s still a gritty look into the birth of reality rap.
- The Martian – This is “science-faction” at its best. My only regret is that I didn’t read the book first and that it’s still sitting on my to-read list. I left this movie feeling some serious NASA pride.
- Spy – Actor Melissa McCarthy and writer/director Paul Feig are a match made in heaven. This a hilarious send up of espionage flicks with a cast that leaves me hoping for a sequel.
- Spectre – This James Bond installment didn’t live up to Skyfall, in my opinion, but it’s more than worthy of the franchise. Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista are excellent baddies. If only Sam Smith’s title theme was a bit more catchy.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Not as good as the first Avengers movie, but still a lot of fun. I actually enjoyed seeing some of the original team move on and look forward to the new line up’s first adventure together.
- Ant-Man – I did not see this until it was released on DVD, because come on– he’s a dude that shrinks down to insect proportions. How is that a super power? But turns out Ant-Man is incredibly cool, funny, and action packed. I still can’t believe Paul Rudd is a leading man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but good luck to him.
- Trainwreck – This was undeniably Amy Schumer’s year. I was a bit late on the comedian’s bandwagon, but are a fully converted fan. Trainwreck is smart and funny, despite a few rom-com cliches.
- Man From U.N.C.L.E. – 2015 was a year full of spies. U.N.C.L.E. was a quieter entry to the field, but stylish as hell. I loved the action and humor, but the performances are what really sell this film. It also doesn’t hurt that Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill are very dreamy.
(I had a tough time picking my top ten, because there were so many films I loved this year!)
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II
Seventh Son – What the fuck was this?
Pan – Again, WTF?
Jurassic World – The dinosaur parts were cool, and Chris Pratt was great, but this movie never quite came together for me. It felt like two hours of “Hey, remember how awesome Jurassic Park was?” At least this was better than any of the previous sequels.
Fantastic Four – I so wanted this to be good. The casting only marginally bothered me (Why couldn’t Sue Storm have been black, too?), and the new orgin story was cool. But everthing else was so blah. It was all too easy to defeat the villain and parts dragged on way too long.